Race Report – Berlin Marathon 2013/09/29
Planned: all under 3:10 is fully acceptable, faster than that even better although considering the last two months with heel problem conscious running was in order!
Actual:…3:03:43! New PB by 6 min 38 sec from Stockholm in June 2013… 2nd best Swede and 62nd among women all categories… Enough said! This marathon is to be remembered!!!
place (M/W) 62
place (ag) 14
age/grade: 75.74% (2012 Dubai:66.6/ London:66.47/SF:65.66/Berlin:68.29/2013 Dubai: 72.35/Boston:72.19/Stockholm:73.1% )
time total (netto) 03:03:43
time total (brutto) 03:05:19
average pace: 4:28min/km
time of day
btw…today’s race will also been remembered (!) for a new set male WR : 2:03:23
early in bed as pretty tired, but unable to sleep. SMS pling @8:40pm… Tried to sleep.. Heard the mysterious clock ringing 9pm…new SMS pling …Turned off sound on mobile (finally!)… Clock ringing 9:30pm.. Still no sleeping…(aso until 12:30am – clock ringing – as I did not hear the clock ringing 1am, I would assume I was sleeping by then, I.e. before 1:00am…)
4:30am: Alarm to go up for breakfast. Stomach not feeling so good. Drank lot of water day before but not helping for the stomach… Ate my oat porridge, sweetened with mashed banana and topped by cranberries and gojjiberries and soymilk (good thing in reprise). Glass of orange juice and 2dl water on the top of it. Back to bed.
5:15am: water drinking (as well as every half hour until finally getting tired-me out of bed. Stomach was absolutely not in good shape. Had heard people complaining before/during race, but seriously when it comes at this time of the day (or night) right before a marathon, you start to get anxious about hydration. Felt like all the drinking efforts done the days before the marathon were failing and that it would be quite tricky to run if I started already empty of water. But strong are the warriors, right?
6:15am: Rise & Shine, off I showered and fixed my hair and got into my running gear. For today (last minute change), would be my blue singlet from NY marathon, my MoreMiles short shorts, my blue and white Kalenji socks. On my arms, I chose to sacrifice a pair of long socks to use as arm-warmers for the start and to be dropped after first few km, G’s scarf (because it looks nice on me and do not want to get cold on the neck before the start). Rest of the socks used as gloves and to be dropped when not useful any longer.
Put on long pants and warm gosy jacket, double check my Garmin, HR band and sunglasses. Gels in different pockets and mp3 in back pocket….just in case! (Last year was a pain from km34onwards so prepared for some music support …as I said “just in case”). Shoes on, close the door and left to the start.
7:35am: have crossed the central station and see the wave of runners flowing towards the start. Nothing I recall from last year. This is a sight in itself. Feeling good, not that cold. The little bridge towards the start holds fine, although it is literally black of people. Aiming towards my clothes drop-off point. All in my thoughts.
7:50-ish am: last pic (smiling but for how long?….) before aiming to starting group. Queue to the loo goes smoothly, despite the Brit behind me apparently eager to go! Stomach felt fine (well, it is definitely empty by now 😦 – found my start group and decide for an easy warmup. Not expecting a fast first kms, warmup of this type will so (felt really spoilt in Stockholm to be able to warmup as I wished and then “hop” in the elit start group). 600+m at a pace not decent enough to be mentioned here. Ran close to the start line. Surprised a bit that the grinds are opened. Meaning anyone can go into the start blocks actually (or close yo them). The security has been higher this year.
Noticing I still have G’s scarf on, forgot to drop it with my clothes… Will have to run with it I decide as do not want to throw it.
The garden around the start is full with joggers…would not recommend to walk outside the gravel paths tomorrow though. Surprisingly people (read: runners) have no problem using nature at toilets right before start of races… Berlin marathon starting in the middle of a great garden ain’t stopping them…
8:20am: in start block D. Already many are there. Squeezing myself to the first line to check on few runners I know would be in group C. Not knowing them by face, I hope they’ll see me! No success with that. Start for wheelchairs is given. And then… It is FIVE minutes to start. My right shoe lace is bothering me again. Drop to the ground to tie it up once more. Drop the “sock-gloves”. Not cold enough. But keep the “sock-arm warmers”, at least look good with them (I think…). Moved my 2 first gels to my weight and hope they’ll stay there! Only have my Dextrosol in a sock stuck in my sport-bra (I know, I have to find a solution for this really… More about this later!).
8:45am: START is given. As usual, balloons in the skies, yelling and shouting runners all around… and nothing happens really! Double checking my GPS in my Garmin (no worries! Not for the first time before start… just want to be sure…). Succeed in jogging light before crossing the START line, beep on the watch aaaaaand off I went. Really smooth start. No pushing, no squeezing (ok, a little maybe. Probably not just me… But I am the smallest “squeezer”.. 🙂 I see a green (or was it dark blue?) balloon on the other side of the road and smile. Good I thought, the pace maker for 3:00 is at reach. Just to follow him.
Reaching first roundabout at a good pace already. Thought yesterday about last year race and it was a bit bothering to read I could not run faster than 4:48 then (which was fast for me last year, but a bit slow for this year). No worries, though. Would do great even with a slow start 🙂 notice by then that it is 3:15 written on the balloon… So not really willing to follow along! I drop this sight and continue my Sunday morning run under the beautiful German sunshine 🙂
Km1 checked at the same time as my Garmin and make me happy. I wrote on my hand this morning a few reminders for 3:10, 3:08 and have my armband for 3:05…OK, I did write for 3:00 as well, but really not as an aim itself… Then turning and reaching km2 feels nice. Scarf is falling for the first time (of six? during the course…), attached it tighter around the neck. Starts to get less crowded. Try to find so runners I could follow a bit but at this time of the course… better to trust oneself’s pace as most of us would need a few more km to settle in cruising MP. By km3 my Garmin is already ahead by 70m compared to km marks. I am anyway mentally prepared to run 43+km as last year it clocked this way. Not checking the time per km (as the distance is incorrect), looking at the average pace instead. Got down to 4:18, “decent” I thought. The cramps that started to be felt already from km2 (!) are still there. No more, no less. Decide to ignore them (i.e. not stopping for stretching, which would have been a well-thought move) and continue my race.
Km5 is clocked at a decent pace, no PR but good. Noting that my watch is 1min30sec after the gun time, I plan to keep it this way as long as I can. Taking a little water at first station. Keep hydrated is the motto for today!
Great feeling is continuing. First energy gel @km9, lemon taste and once again boringly thick to swallow. Must be really a problem for the manufacture of this taste. Taking two water mugs to ensure it will go down with enough water.
Meeting a giant in black outfit around km11, telling me my running looks good and asking what time I am expecting to finish in. Less than 3:10 is my answer and you? A bit faster than that he said and after a short quiet pause he add that at this pace I am already passed 3:10. I smiled back saying I can follow along and hold the conversation… as long as he is keeping the pace. Can’t promise singing and dancing, but talking and smiling I can 😉 Arriving at the km12 roundabout. Photo smile (I think…) aaaand turn left and keep in smiling. My Garmin indicated a steady avg pace of 4:15min/km, which is more than satisfactory. Every second or minute ahead in first half are bonus that may be use in case of emergency in the second half! Up to km16, nothing really happens. Try to keep up with other runners, not finding though any good pacemaker for myself. Following a lady in blue/yellow running dress (?) outfit. Felt find to run beside her until I closed my eyes for half-a-millisecond and derive to the right…onto her. There came the swearing! Lots of apologies from my side… Hear her talking Swedish when getting her gels from her supporter so here came my apologise in Swedish too! Got a smile and then I drifted forward.
Km17 -start to feel the friction in my right shoe… Blister in the way! Two choices: choice 1: stop and see if can either re-arrange the sock or shoe or… don’t know what else can be done. choice 2: go along with it and hope it holds until the end (yes, lots if questions and decisions to make! Took approximately two seconds to decide for option 2. Any stop might mean I will feel my body may be tired and not willing to start again. Chance to take.). Cramps are still there in the back if the calves. Have taken water at every station since the start. Not helping though.
Reaching km20 (20.4 on my watch…), happy to get to the first half really. A bit worried when passing the time mats as I do not walk really on them. Think if I am not registered there and disqualified for missing a partial checkpoint…. Pace is still showing 4:15, although the distance is incorrect. Quick thought that would I make it to the end at this pace, I have good chance to get a 3-hours blank marathon. Lifting my spirit this way, I fly to the first half. No PR here neither, as for the previous time check with gun time, still having 1:30 difference although at halfway I calculate I have 1:40 or so.
The cruising part is done (yes! I can write I felt like cruising at 4:15 pace!!!). Still smiling, clapping hands when music comes or when seeing French or Swedish flags. Danish flags are also good to cheer for, especially when you shout to cheer for the Swedes. You might notice that everything else you probably will never do in “real” life, you may do it while running a marathon!
Strategy from Pfitzinger is to keep carbs levels high during 21-32km. Followed this in Dubai on the top if good hydration. Planned similar approach thus time. Taking one Dextrosol every km (apart from km22 & 29-took two and the km-mark after the gel @ km27). Keeping myself hydrated at EVERY water station. No walking. No pushing. No falling. Always taking two mugs by km25 onwards for drinking and getting water to cool off the body. Use of plastic mugs is a disaster. Impossible almost to fold them for drinking, d*mn slippery if you happen to run on them, breaking easily… Thumb down for this one, Berlin marathon (cannot think it is good for environment either…). A bit of slowing pace down happens by km23 or so. Drifting away by 5-10sec during this part is fully ok according once again to Pfitzinger. But as I am not checking my km-time only my avg pace, I have no clue how much I am actually drifting. Noticing 4:16, then 4:17… Still pretty amazing to have reached that far at THIS pace and still smiling. As “Trickie” might say: ” if it looks good, it must be good!” So with this thought in mind, I do myself a favour focusing on the “looking good” part 🙂
Sub3 is out-of-reach by now so decide to skip chasing time (if I ever did it today… and I really do not feel I did), decide to fully enjoy and have fun. If I gave high-five in the first half, this second half is winning the price! Keeping pace with my giant in black (he looks like running slow and peaceful when little-me beside him looks like an ant speeding for getting food to the ants colony!!!!). Water stop around 30km is a bit boring. Few runners have dropped out, look like cramping and my giant in black stops for water when I pass him one last time. Have not seen him after that.
Km32 -something happens. Clicked on lap on my Garmin to get “real” km-marks until the end. These are the LAST 10km aka Nothing… A morning run at 5pm. A run from work under the sun. A run with G at his full speed. Am easy recovery run.. NOTHING!!! So digging deep into what is left for energy reserves. Last year was a painful part here. No way it is happening this time I decide. Cramps still there but under control since the beginning. Hoping they won’t explode before the finish line. Blister still there and not going anywhere. just to bite and get along with it. Got time to analyse my run by then, thinking of the level of effort I have been using so far and right now. Definitely not much. Unsure whether could have run faster so far (well, I could have actually but definitely did not give it all in first half to keep on steady pace and energy for this final 10k). What is happening now? Why even thinking of it?!?? FOCUS! Passed km34 in good mood, starting to pass people (slowly but surely). Km35 felt great. Saw was a bit of target for my “1:30-difference -with-gun-time” but the watch indicated a pace of 4:18. So more than fully acceptable!
Final gel taken around km35, enough water with it. So proud of myself I could drink properly without dropping all on me! Then km36&37 passed by, dreadful km38 arrived..and disappeared. Great move I thought to have the beep of km from the watch almost on the km-mark by now. Just mentally it was killing me last year to see km38 was 38,7 (?) on my watch. It was the same this more or less (!) but having reset the km at km32 made the difference “when the km beep” of only 100/200m and not 700!!! Once again time to dig in the reserves (and there was more I can guarantee!). I knew as well that several turns were necessary before getting to final street “Unter Den Linen”… Embraced km40, great 2+ km to go. Cheered for Robert (?) whose buddy tried to get along for the final km. Come on! You made it this far (& ahead if me!) so you are up for a good time!… And passed them.
Started to accelerate (have not checked my pace but at least in my head I started my final 2km sprint!). No woman in sight 😦 who can I pass then? … Happily passed gentlemen full with encouragement (a first to have guys cheering when a gal is passing them while racing!). Got a lady ahead and this was my goal: pass her before the finish line and ensure a gap so she would not pass me right before the line!
This time I actually ENJOYED seeing Brandeburg Tor! The mind telling: “Come on, you got this far, your watch already shows you passed the marathon distance several hundreds meters ago… Take a short pause, stop even. You showed you can go that long and fast. Already rewarded, right?”. Tough tough tough to have this less than 300m from the finish line. Skipped the usual smiling to the photographs this time (!) and aimed for getting a few places ahead passing one, two, three,… well let’s say a few guys right before the finish line. Saw the clock changing to 3:05:01 while passing under… YES! Under 3:05!!! Stop the clock. Quick check. 3:03!!!! But the real time is always different…(Garmin showed 46.74km in 03:03:46…).
After the finish line
Fell in the arms of a lady volunteer in smile and close to tears. All good I say before giving her a big kiss in the chick! Moved forward, feeling the tears coming. Quick body check: no cramp ahead, hamstring right side making itself reminded (I did forgot it while running!), blister what?, feet tired… No crippling through the finish line! Yippie!
Took the way to the massage after congratulating two giant Swedes. Got half a banana and a quarter of apple. Skipped the energy drink (disgusting!), glass of water. Waited max 5 minutes, laid down on the stomach, cramp under right foot. Best 4-hands massage ever! Could have been harder, but definitely did the trick. Turned to get a quick one on the front of the legs and barefoot, aimed to pick up my clothing.
A bit cold then as the clothes area for me was in a nice shadowy place. Got to a sunnier place, asked a nice block to take a photo of me and start putting socks on and eat a liiitle. Met XXxx and Jonas from home town. Nice with bit of Swedish in this international ocean of language that most marathons are!
Aimed then to the gravure area, got FINALLY my time confirmed :3:03:43, place 62!!! (Got the results already through my mom on my mobile… Best race-follower ever! Always get comments on my races reaching my mobile either during the race or right after finish… Cool with live comments afterwards!). SMS to coach and greatest friends/supporters. Ecstatic, careful with what I wrote as when you are so HIGH on adrenalin, you never know! 😉
Ate the salted sticks from the goodie bag and aimed home. Much less people towards the central station. Tapped an ice-cold bath (ya, getting a habit!), ate banana, chocolate croissant, power fruit bar and drank a full powerade bottle. 10 minutes in the bath and changed to alternate hit/cold shower instead. Felt deeply frozen by then (wonder why!!! Took my bath with clothes on…).
More messaging, massage with cold gel from France and then laid down in the bed with double cover and three pillows under the feet. Rested for one hour and aimed to meet S for lunch/dinner. No spareribs ahead do aimed for steak with fries and little Pepsi. A bit of wall to Alexanderplats to take the subway to Kosmos, where the marathon party was taking place. Met Miguel and girlfriend Julie from Paris while waiting. First marathon for Miguel in 3:40 (if my memory is not failing). Nice talking to them. No queue outside but took a while to get to the “engraving” of the mi time bracelet. In the queue I met Björn and Pål from South of Sweden. Respectively 6th and 3rd time running Berlin. Björn showed proudly all his mi time bracelets from previous years 🙂 Got my time engraved and left for home. Met the two Swedes again in the subway and finally made it home. Packing of all the stuff around, little messaging and time for bed (way too late!).
Weather: chilly 6ºC at start from home, probably a few degrees up at start and much better while running. Sunny, little windy (around km30?) – perfect running weather
> before: oat porridge with banana, cranberries and gojjiberries topped with soymilk
> right after: banana, apple, salted sticks, water
> One hour after: powerade blue, chocolate croissant, cereal bar, banana
> During: vitargo gel @km9, 17.5, 27?, 34.5. Dextrosol: 1 tablet every km (between km21 & 32) except the ones with gel+one after. 2 tablets km22 &29 + 2 @km40?
Gear: Moremiles short shorts, NY singlet, arm warmer, scarf (off after km 25 or so), sunglasses – shoes? What can I say, but GREAT! They deliver every single time. Was a bit scared the heel would not like running with them as being maybe “less” (?) stable than the GT2000, but seriously, wonder what can replace them!
Outfit was great for the race and weather. Should have skipped the scarf (!) and probably could have run in sport-bra or alike. Lifted my singlet from km25+…
15/ Effort level never reach a top. Some km like km30 was tougher for the mind but no more effort was put in it. Unsure whether could have pushed more, to run faster and get a higher effort level. For this time, 15 will do! Feeling was so right!
SUMMARY: Greatest race so far done, without having the greatest preparations in mind (problem with Achilles heel since mid July making me cancelling the few planned races before Berlin, stomach not really fun on race morning, 2 tapering weeks with hectic at work…). Not trying to find excuse here, just facts.
Best overall feeling since Dubai for a long race. First marathon with NO WALKING AT ALL, not even during water pickup. Mindset on the top for 98.99% of the race (hey! nobody’s perfect! 🙂 ) – Body responding good to the training done so far and despite the inconveniences of the heels since July and the stomach in the morning. Body feeling great afterwards, even the day after.
Stable pace most of the race, drifting slightly during the second half, but only for 1min 57sec. Slower first half, but definitely strongest second half I had since Dubai in January. Good to know there is no need for PB on all distance for fixing an overall more-than-satisfactory PB for the full marathon distance!
I.AM.HAPPY! FOR A TENTH MARATHON, IT DID END RIGHT HOW IT SHOULD!
(Last but not least…THANKS for all the support and kind words of encouragement during both training, pre & post race. Since July the motivation has never reached a decent level – maybe for specific workouts but not as general – making this race and its results even more satisfying.
Yes it IS a long race report, but for a race deserving it!)
1 week off running now and we’ll see what is happening next 🙂